The government of the UK has been accused of deliberately neglecting the lives of migrant women in forthcoming legislation on domestic abuse.
Domestic abuse campaigners and victims have been urging the government to make “life-saving” changes to the domestic abuse bill which will be discussed extensively for its final stage in parliament on Monday.
The director of Southall Black Sisters, Pragna Patel said: “The decision to leave migrant women out of this bill sends the message that their lives are not valued, they are disposable, they are second-class people, they are invisible.
At present, the victims of domestic violence on spousal visas are able to access support for three months however, women on any other visa with a “no recourse to public funds” stipulation cannot.
Jess Phillips, the shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, has brought forward an amendment proposing a pause on the no recourse provision for migrant victims who meet a legal aid test.
“The argument the government uses is that these women should go home – and have their whole lives taken away by their abuser. “In these situations, the state is continuing the threat of the perpetrator who says ‘no one will believe you, you won’t have anywhere to go and have no support’ – and right now the abuser is absolutely right.”, she said.
She asserted that the bill also had not provided economic stability for community-based support services, even though she approved of a statutory duty on local authorities to provide support for victims in refugees.
Following a campaign led by the NSPCC, the bill will now expressly recognise that children are victims of domestic abuse in their own right. The bill has also been adjusted to guarantee survivors access to special measures like screens and waiting rooms in all courts and to expand a ban on abusers cross-examining their victims.
The Home Office spokesperson described the bill as “a game-changing piece of legislation that will transform how we deal with this horrific crime” and also added that the government had pledged £76m to give support to victims of domestic abuse, sexual violence and modern slavery.